"In the moments of living, the details are what matter..."

I woke up the other morning feeling utterly defeated. There had simply been too many days of illness, vomit, fever, missed work days, missed school days, catching up, snow. Jonah had gotten so ill, and seeing the effects of illness on such a small being is anguish. I felt helpless. I wanted to magically make him feel better, and I couldn't. During these times, I feel like I live in crisis mode, taking care of only the most urgent things that demand my immediate attention, and having little time (or energy) to attend to anything else. Ironic, that. Living in the moment out of necessity, but not out of presence.

In this mode of living, I stop noticing. When I stop noticing, I'm not really living (but I don't notice even that!) The details blur, and somehow, at the same time that life hurtles along, living feels harder, slower, harsher. I languish. When I languish, there is a dissonance that permeates every arena of my life, and for a time, I am sorrowful and heavy.

I had written recently about how in the moments of living, the details are what matter. And yet, there are so many moments of living when the sheer magnitude of energy output required to keep going is all that I can sustain.

It took a horrible car accident to wake me up.

Not one that involved me, thank goodness. Rather, I witnessed a mangling, airbag-deploying, crushing spectacle of an accident, with car remnants scattered around and eventually, ambulances zooming away from the scene. It was the day after the most recent snow storm, with most schools delayed by 2 hours and rush-hour happening at 10am instead of 8am. I was driving on those same icy roads with precious cargo strapped into the booster seat. The sky was deceptively blue and bright, but it was cold and icy.

In that moment, I thought about Jonah's joyful, oblivious stream of morning babble, full of sparkling life, and I thought about how in an instant, lives can change irrevocably.

It brought me back to presence in a hurry.

That moment of sobering reality brought me back to a feeling of gratitude for LIFE. Gratitude brought me back to noticing. Noticing brought me back to living.

I am myself again.
(For now.)


Lately I've been thinking about how wonderful and easy it is to capture small but beautiful details and moments in photos, thanks to my handy smartphone. Just as smells can be so evocative and powerful in their ability to transport me back to places and experiences from memory, visual images help me remember vividly the contextual details I tend to forget otherwise. So many of these photos were taken at the request of Jonah (as in "Umma, will you take a picture of this please?") In bringing myself back to a joyful life, I meandered through the past. These images brought back vivid moments:

Random spill? I don't think I would have noticed, but of course, Jonah did. Here here is saying, "Umma, look!!! It's a lily pad!"

"Umma, I am a frog, and I am sitting on my lily pad! Can you take a picture please?"

Jonah calls this walk, near the Whole Foods on Falls Road, "the stinky water." The path meanders below an overpass and eventually to the Mt. Washington Light Rail Station. Our routine is to get honey-graham ice cream at Uncle Wiggly's, then walk along the path to the light rail to watch the trains go by (Jonah loves the flashing light and the ridiculous man-voice that repeats mindlessly, "Caauution! Caauution! Train is approaching!") The cement walls below the overpass are ever-changing. This time, however, someone had painted the STONES. Jonah was enthralled by the colored stones speckling the water, but I--of course--was chuckling at the funny comment above the water!

I am ready for warmer weather. The native North Dakotan in me doesn't at all mind the cold, but I miss the garden, the smell of growing things, the bursting vibrancy of nature UN-dormant. I am ready to start making collections again. This one (collected and arranged by Jonah) brings back a vivid memory of fall turning toward winter, when for a fleeting period, green leaves and seed pods and colored leaves exist at the same time, nature in all its abundance showing its tranformations concurrently...

I can't wait for more.